Oregon Board of Forestry’s Proposed Coldwater Protection Rule
For Western Oregon Private Land
KEY ISSUES AND RECOMMENDED CHANGES
What’s going on? The Oregon Board of Forestry has proposed new stream protection rules that modestly increase restrictions on logging near some streams on some of Oregon’s private forest land in Western Oregon. The purpose of these rules is to prevent streams from warming up when streamside shade trees are logged — as required by our water quality laws.
These rules will become effective July 1, 2017 unless public comments received by March 1 convince the Board to improve them. The Oregon Stream Protection Coalition is actively involved in promoting improvements to these proposed rules. Even if the Board doesn’t change its rule proposal before final adoption, comments submitted at public meetings and in writing will help get the word out that this rule change isn’t enough to protect water quality and that Oregonians want stronger stream protection on more streams statewide
- Oregon’s current forest practices on private lands cause too much water pollution.
- The Board of Forestry has agreed and found that Oregon’s forest practices are causing damaging water pollution that warms streams. Oregon’s salmon, steelhead, bull trout, and other fish need cold water to thrive. Oregon water quality laws require meeting that forestry rules meet water quality standards that protect cold water for fish.
- The Oregon Board of Forestry has proposed new logging rules that increase buffers along some streams, and in these buffers logging is limited to reduce water pollution.
- These buffers are an improvement on existing practices, but they will not provide enough protection for fish because they do not go far enough to protect the cold water that fish need.
- The Oregon Stream Protection Coalition welcomes changes to existing forestry practices and is advocating for stronger rules that will provide a greater likelihood that the water quality standard require protection of cold water will be met.
SUMMARY OF THE RULE PROPOSAL
- The rule proposal provides for no cut buffers as follows:
- 60 feet on small “salmon, steelhead and bull trout” streams.
- 80 feet on medium medium “salmon, steelhead and bull trout” streams.
- The rule proposal provides for “variable retention” buffers as follows:
- The first 20 feet are a no cut zone.
- On small salmon, steelhead, and bull trout streams, between 20 feet and 60 feet, more trees must be left in the buffer (measured in basal area). This includes both conifer and hardwood trees.
- On medium salmon, steelhead, and bull trout streams, between 20 feet and 80 feet, more trees must be left in the buffer (measured in basal area). This includes both conifer and hardwood trees.
- On streams that run in an east-west direction, the rule proposal provides for a 40 foot no cut buffer on the north side of the stream.
- “Pre-commercial thinning” and “release activities” still are allowed anywhere in any of the buffers.
The full rule language and more is available here: Official state website on rule change
OREGON STREAM PROTECTION COALITION’S
RECOMMENDED CHANGES TO THE PROPOSED RULES
- Widen the proposed buffers.
- Buffers should be at least 90-120 wide to protect salmon, steelhead and bull trout from stream warming, and to meet DEQ water quality standards.
- Scientists determined current buffers were inadequate as far back as the early 90s, but the Department of Forestry has not improved them.
- Scientific research shows current private lands logging rules don’t prevent small and medium salmon, steelhead and bull trout streams from being warmed more than water quality standards allow.
- Wide streamside buffers on Oregon’s private forestlands are needed and long overdue.
- These buffers should be mandatory not voluntary to ensure fish are protected.
This chart created by the Oregon Stream Protection Coalition shows how much smaller the areas with special management restrictions are next to fish-bearing streams in Oregon compared to Washington and California. The proposed rule change will add only 10 feet to current buffers on LESS THAN A THIRD of the “small” and “medium” fish streams in Western Oregon
- Extend the streamside buffers further upstream to protect salmon habitat.
- New rules should apply at least 1600 feet upstream from salmon, steelhead, and bull trout reaches.
- This distance is supported by science, the intent of the cold water standard, and the EPA.
- Include the Siskiyou Region in the rule making
- Under the proposed rules, this region will be left out of increased streamside buffers even though there is adequate information and urgency to protect fish in this region.
- We don’t need to do another expensive long-term study while the fish suffer.
WHERE THE NEW BOARD OF FORESTRY RULES WON’T APPLY
- Make all buffers no cut buffers
- Don’t allow partial cuts as an experiment. Variable retention rules will allow logging too close to streams, contributing to stream warming and harming fish.
- EPA analysis shows that partial cut buffers are likely to increase stream temperatures
- Make buffers the same width on all streams, regardless of which direction the streams run.
- Buffers are needed to provide healthy instream habitats, limit sedimentation from logging, and to protect cold water. There is not sufficient evidence to support allowing smaller buffers on the streams that run east-west.
- Ensure that the effectiveness of this new rule is monitored.
- The Board needs to be sure that these rules can meet the legally required coldwater standard and protect fish, especially because the prescriptions are risky.
- Make buffers apply equally on on all streams, regardless of which private landowner owns that land.
- The Board of Forestry should not allow some landowners to use smaller buffers, and to harm public waters and threatened and endangered species, except in very limited instances of an overly burdensome impact on the landowner.